A New Day of Learning: Meeting Rick Wormeli

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meeting Rick Wormeli

This blog post contains affiliate links. 
Have you ever had the opportunity to listen to one of your favorite professional authors speak? Have you ever had the chance to be energized by hearing an expert in your field speak passionately? Have you ever walked away from a conference feeling more sure about your beliefs and ready to tackle new challenges?

I feel so lucky because all of those things happened to me yesterday! I had the absolute privilege of listening to and meeting Rick Wormeli, author of Fair Isn't Always Equal.

Mr. Wormeli was entertaining, energetic and thought-provoking.  A genuinely nice guy with all students at the forefront of his mind.  He didn't mince words as he talked to us about ethics, and our moral responsibility as educators to leave effort, homework, and participation out of our grades.  We also discussed the importance of never entering a zero into the gradebook and why averaging grades is an unfair practice that tells us how students are doing compared to each other, but not how each student is doing compared to a learning objective or standard.  

He gently reminded us that giving feedback is one of the most important ways that we can help our students achieve growth! Did you know that providing explanations as to why a student's responses are correct or incorrect can have an increase of 20 percentile points in student achievement? What is even more amazing is that if you show the students their achievement using graphics (think charts and graphs) it can positively affect student achievement by 26 percentile points! 

Have you ever offered extra credit in class before? I know I have! Mr. Wormeli made a great point during the presentation when he talked about if he were the ruler of the universe, that he would eliminate ALL extra credit! He pointed out that if you are going to put extra credit on a test, it should be valuable. He asked us to consider that if the extra credit was valuable, then why didn't you put it in the test to start? Extra credit skews and inflates grades and in turn does not offer an accurate picture of student achievement!

We also spent much of the time learning about how to create buy-in with staff and the community as we move towards implementing Standards Based Report Cards. One of the biggest take-aways was that you have to change teacher belief systems before changing structures.  He also reminded us that you will never have 100% buy in, but you should not let that stop you from implementing good pedagogy. 

I want you to know that these topics were just the tip of the iceberg of all the topics that were discussed in our short time together.  Mr. Wormeli was so kind as to share some great resources with us, and I have typed them up and included them here for you as well! I can't wait to start exploring and doing some more professional reading around the learnings from yesterday.

In closing, I am going to leave  you with this fun picture! It really shows what a gracious and down-to-earth guy Mr. Wormeli is.  He agreed to take a selfie with me! I think he is like the Steve Martin of the education world! 

Where are you in your journey towards Standards Based Report Cards? What is a practice you have adopted to be fair in your grading practices?


  1. Great post! Lots of thought provoking ideas! That is so fascinating that showing students their achievement on a graph boosts their learning in such a dramatic way!
    Thank you for the on-line resources!
    Peggy @ Primary Flourish

    1. I agree! Even just talking with students about their data and helping them set goals as a dramatic effect on their data! Thanks for stopping by!


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